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Corrections Director says prison reforms are needed

Department of Corrections Director Bob Lampert is asking lawmakers to support some proposed prison reforms.  He told the Joint Judiciary Committee that  Wyoming has one of the most successful correction systems in the nation in terms of its rate of return to prison. 

Lampert adds that while crime is dropping, they still maintain a large number of inmates, and the cost of housing them, continues to rise.  Lampert would like to see that changed via a number of reforms. In addition he has proposed putting a halt on the construction of a new 144-bed prison in Torrington, saving the state over 13-million-dollars.

“If we make those changes that are recommended then perhaps we can delay or eliminate the need for additional prison beds,” Lampert says.  “But if current state policy continues, current practices continue, then we’re probably going to have those beds in place no later than 2020.”

In lieu of prison sentences, Lampert proposes split sentencing, which means people are sentenced to a year in a county jail and long probation periods instead.  He says this approach is working well in several other states and he thinks Wyoming would benefit from the same type of reform.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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